Punk rock. The opening notes of “TRAP” rip through the speakers and punch you in the face. No concern whatsoever for the trendy or the chart topping. No need. We speedily rewind to a time when the internet was still nonexistent or at most a dialup hassle, and cell phones weren’t small or smart. Desperate and needy attention seeking was acted out by climbing on top of the counters at the local pub and removing your shirt, instead of posing for another Instagram selfie in a black thong and broadcasting it to the whole world, including your fuming, embarrassed parents.
But it’s also fresh. It isn’t just a nostalgic ride through the musical landscape of the 80s and 90s or some lame tribute. It should certainly appeal to those sensibilities, but the production value is too polished and pristine, the instruments too real, and the lyrical content too heartfelt to be mistaken for a mere rehash of the yesteryear. Real work went into the creation of this album, a substantial budget too. If you put The Cult, The Cure, U2, Cyndi Lauper, and Foo Fighters in a blender and filtered it through modern lenses, it should come out sounding something like Future Religions.
If it’s going to be punk, though, it may as well be unapologetic. No messing around. And while Jody Lubin’s songs are pop enough to get stuck in your head, they’re not going to wait around for your Top 40-worn ears to process the fact that you’re not listening to the same trap beat sample packs you can download anywhere and sequenced Omnisphere synths you’ve been bombarding your earbuds with. Like the sharp, fanged, visual trickery of the blurry album cover (my eyes hurt), it’s devil may care, and you’d better keep up or you will get kicked to the curb. This is the bad-influence parental advisory stickered album at HMV your mom didn’t let you buy back in the day (and you secretly purchased one lunch hour to play on your Discman). Though, in this case a few well-placed expletives shouldn’t lead to bonfire burnings.
From “TRAP,” the album segues into “COLOURS,” a slower, reflective, and emotive piece, not just about dizzying fast times, and the passing seasons but of the beautiful kaleidoscope of faces we see every day everywhere we go. This locks in the socially conscious 80s and 90s vibe to a tee, and most would agree, the message is more pointed and zeitgeist than ever.
And it follows that the album rises and falls like a rollercoaster. We return to the in-your-face The Cult style guitar drones of “STRANGER THINGS,” followed by “1988,” a song about breakups and memories, and the obligatory vibey 80s keyboard-driven ballad of “TAKE CARE.”
Speaking of requisites, “GET OUT” is sure to be the singalong rocker (or shout-along, as the case may be) Lubin himself envisions belting out to an arena full of crazed band tee and Guess jeans wearing, head-banging nostalgia chasers, as well as young, colorful, smartphone obsessed thrill seekers who flock around to see what all the commotion is about.
“FLOWERS” is the meeting place of modern and retro, with 80s synths and hints of robo-harmonized vocals. By this point the album has settled in, and if you weren’t in the passenger’s seat by now, you’ve either checked out or your head is still spinning from the lack of hi-hats constantly piercing your ears with triplets, rolls, pitch and swing. But it’s not done blasting your ears out with Peavey stacks yet, so you better buckle in for the home stretch.
“HEARTBEAT” reminds us of what happens when we don’t heed the cautions of others in a dramatic, synth- and guitar-laden, chilling road trip mellow. And it carries solemnly into “OASIS,” which, just as its name would imply, offers destination getaway relief from flatlined heart monitor tension. Phew.
Lubin could have closed the album any way he pleased, and we wouldn’t have minded. The upper, downer, chaser ride of Future Religions, though, so far as we’re concerned, begged for a certain kind of ending, and Lubin didn’t disappoint. The wake-up call of shattering glass blasts you out of your false sense of security and backslaps you into the explosive punk rock of “WINDOWS,” which might just be equally at home in a Foo Fighters set. “Hey! Hey! Hey!” Indeed. This is what ending on a high note is all about, and it isn’t any less satisfying knowing it’s coming.
If this sounds like your thing, give Future Religions a listen. And, even if it isn’t, check it out on a lark. I know Jody would appreciate every bit of support he gets.